Mick Conlan out to break bad American habits on Madison Square Garden return

Michael Conlan has gone back to school and started learning again following a change of scenery.

The Top Rank prospect has departed LA as he approaches his second year as a pro and, with a second child on the way, relocated closer to home.

The Belfast featherweight, who along with Jason Quigley was one of two Irish fighters to swap LA for England, will now work with Adam Booth in London.

Booth, who was key to Andy Lee and Ryan Burnett’s World title successes, will add new things to the double Olympian’s arsenal and Conlan envisions himself staying with ‘The Dark Lord’ for the rest of his career.

Formerly with Manny Robles at The Rock Gym, Conlan admits he grew dissatisfied with the style of fighting being cultivated in California and yearned for the more technical approach which he flourished in in the amateur ranks.

The 26-year-old described how “that year in the U.S. brought a different style to my game.”

“It was a style of me going to war which I need to break in training because I am going into spars trying to take guys out. I was going in with that ‘kill or be killed’ attitude rather than a learning attitude.”

“That was something that US training had done to me – it was wars every day. There was nothing technical behind it so I need to break out of that and I think Adam is the coach who will help me achieve that and add to the game I have picked up from the U.S.”

“I do have a technical boxing brain and I’ve always been a good fighter, so I just need to get back to those roots.”

“Leaving Manny, I went over there expecting to be there for the rest of my career, but things do change and I thought I needed to be closer to home with another baby on the way.”

“Logistically, it was the smarter move, but I believe now this is the next chapter and the coach I will finish my career with now.”

Conlan is happy with his new surroundings alongside the likes of Burnett, Charlie Edwards, Josh Kelly, and Lucien Reid.

The Falls Road fighter noted how “I believe I am in the right place with the right coach to bring me onto the next level to where I need to be and that’s world titles.”

“I believe this is the coach now who I will finish my career with. I’m a loyal guy, not one who chops and changes much. I was in the same amateur gym for most of my life.”

The fighter will work for the first time with Booth in the corner when he fights at Madison Square Garden Theatre on March 17th.

Here he will face Hungarian David Berna [15(14)-2(2)], whom he claims will be a step up in level.

The gradual matchmaking of Conlan has been subject to some impatient criticism, while the selection of Berna – who looks to have a grossly misleading record – has also come in for some stick.

The fighter himself dismisses this talk and pointed out how “people may say I am moving along slowly, but I’ve not fought anyone with a losing record so I feel I am in a good place.”

“Two have had level records and the others have had winning records, so I feel that speaks volumes in itself for pro boxing.

This is a step up, something that I’m really looking forward to and something ESPN have asked for. They want me to step it up too and that’s something I’m more than happy to do.”

“I think you’re going to see something different this time. I’m going in against a guy who is very dangerous and with a coach who I think will bring out the best in me even though my last performance I showed a lot of boxing skills.”

“I know this guy is going to come forward and come at me, but that will leave openings and I believe I will take him out within three rounds.”

It is, of course, a return to the Felt Forum, where Conlan made his near-unprecedented top-of-the-bill debut last St Patrick’s Day.

Accompanied to the ring by Conor McGregor and decked out in an Irish equivalent to Apollo Creed’s walk-in versus Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Conlan certainly grabbed attention.

One of the chief supports to the WBC light welterweight title fight between Jose Ramirez and Amir Imam this time around, Conlan still intends to make a splash.

The Antrim boxer outlined how You need to put on a show and be a showman. When I turned professional, I always said I wanted to be that showman and you saw it last year with the entrance and stuff.”

“I want to do that and want to get fans enjoying boxing, not just the fighting side, but the whole event, the entrances and that stuff. I thought I did well with that last year and want to do it again this year.”

“Obviously, this year I want a cleaner performance. Last time [against Luis Molina], I boxed the guy and probably could have taken him out, but I want to take this guy out because I think it’s all about entertainment, but I’ll only take him out if it feels safe to do that, but I believe I will.”


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